First time I came to Egypt (2000) was on a 7 night’s group cruise on the Nile with a lovely bunch of people. I had no intention of going to Cairo or seeing the Pyramids and I was on a tight spending budget…..but I listened to the Guide (big mistake!) on the cruise when he gave us little talks on the benefits of an “optional extra” trip to the Pyramids. You see I didn’t know it was part of his job to part us with as much money as possible! Check your priority list when being advised by anyone – even me!
This “optional extra” wonderful trip to Cairo meant we got up around 4am, took a breakfast box with us to the airport and flew to Cairo. There we were met by a lovely guide who took us directly to the Citadel. My first impression of Cairo – I couldn’t take it at all….the number of cars, the speed of the traffic, the pedestrians all over the place dodging traffic, the buildings, the colours, the smells… all amounted to sensory overload. I wasn’t exactly an Irish country girl abroad for the first time – I had lived and worked in both Dublin and London in my younger days, but the organisation of those cities in comparison to the chaos and speed of Cairo …… not even close!
I don’t remember what we did next, maybe went to the museum – I presume we ate lunch at some stage but have no recollections of it. All I remember is that there were about 5 of us, I think – dying from heat exhaustion even though the bus must have had air-condition. We arrived to the Giza Plateau. In those days it was pretty easy to wander around there yourself. Since the 2011 revolution the hassle on the Giza Plateau and around the Gt. Pyramid in particular has got totally out of hand. Anyway, way back in 2000 three of us absolutely refused to get out of the bus, much to the dismay of the guide – we just wanted to get to the hotel and collapse. 2 went into one of the two smaller pyramids – one of whom came back with the guide while the other one, Patricia, got lost.
Good for her – Patricia was really interested and wanted to see the Sphinx. So she risked facing the wrath of our tour guide and did her own thing. Our guide was crying because her manager was screaming down the phone that she was late at our next destination – don’t remember where that was supposed to be either. Next thing I remember (after the return of our lost friend) was going to bed in the Cosmopolitan Hotel (not very clean) – 6pm and without dinner. I slept straight through the night and have no idea what we did the next day!
The moral of my true story – the trip to Cairo was totally wasted on me and it cost me quite a bit of money. My time would have been better spent relaxing on the last two days of the cruise, spending my money on something I liked and returning home to Ireland refreshed, relaxed, satisfied and ready to face the real world again after my fantastic cruise. However, let me say that if the trip to Cairo had been better organised, taking into account that we could not lose half a night’s sleep and still be in good condition for a full day’s touring after a flight to Cairo, the experience could have been much more satisfying.
First of all, everyone you meet here (because you are most likely not going to meet ANYONE who is not involved in the tourist industry in some way) has their own agenda, which is to sell you as much as they can, accommodation, tours, guides, transport, souvenirs, even friendship and marriage! Egyptians are lovely, friendly, smiling people and unless you have your own agenda firmly in place you will fall in with someone else’s agenda before you know it.
7 Things to help you stick to your plan
- Have your accommodation booked
- Do a certain amount of research around your own interests BEFORE you come
- Decide on your personal priorities between sightseeing, sleeping, good food and relaxing.
- Have the major ‘must see and must do’ items more or less planned
- If you meet someone who makes a suggestion, question them for firm details before following them.
- Compare their suggestions with your priority list, your energy levels and your finances.
- Keep a balance between price, quality and quantity. Decisions based solely on price, more often than not, will let you down in quality, quantity or time. Try to keep a middle ground.
So have a quality rather than quantity driven time in Egypt. Make it your intention that you see and experience what is meant for you and trust that it will happen. When people come to Mara House – and sometimes even in emails prior to arrival, I try to get a sense of what they are looking for and do my best to open those avenues for them.
You will read about places and just “know” you want to see those particular temples or tombs more than other ones. If you are on a budget spend your money on a good guide and safe transport to your priority sites instead of trying to cram in too many places at “cheap” prices or without a guide because you will just be disappointed. You can see some the sites in Egypt without a guide because there may not be much detail left to explain on the walls etc. For sure if you are coming to Luxor you should put Abydos and Dendera on your “must see” list and Mohamed is the best guide in Luxor for those two temples.
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